Lawrie extends Qatar advantage


Paul Lawrie extended his Qatar Masters lead by a further shot on Friday as he edged closer to a first European Tour title since 2012.

The former Open winner has not tasted victory since the Johnnie Walker Championship four years ago, but is in position to end that wait after a third-round 70.

Lawrie enjoys playing at the Doha Golf Cub, having already won the tournament on two occasions - in 1999 and 2012 - and he finished with a flourish on Friday to build a two-shot cushion on 13-under par.

After a 66 on day two, Lawrie made steady progress on his third round with 13-successive pars, a run that allowed Branden Grace to move within touching distance of the lead.

However, birdies and 14 and 18 ensured Lawrie held onto the lead heading into Saturday, first sinking an eight-foot putt before a superb approach to the last enabled him to collect another shot.

"It was nice to end the day on a positive note," he told the European Tour website. "It was a tough day, the wind was blowing, you could tell by the scoreboard that it was hard to make birdies.

"So I got round a bit frustrated but two-under, so it was a good day. Tomorrow is going to be a big challenge, but I'm looking forward to it."

While Lawrie is looking to become the first player to win this event three times, Grace also has his eye on a piece of history in his attempt to win back-to-back titles for the first time in the tournament's history.

After picking up a shot at the first, the South African carded 14 pars before finishing with three successive birdies, his tee shot at 17 landing within five feet.

His 68 ensured a share of second place with Thorbjorn Olesen - who shot 69 - with Tommy Fleetwood and Rafa Cabrera-Bello a further shot back on -10.

Louis Oosthuizen and Pablo Larrazabal - leaders after day one - endured another frustrating day as they completed rounds of 71 and 72 respectively, leaving them tied for 16 on seven under.

Meanwhile, Nicolas Colsaerts - who was one shot back on Thursday - had a terrible third round to tumble right out of contention, eight shots back.

The Belgian's day started well with two early birdies as he moved level with Lawrie, but bogeys at six and nine saw him one over at the turn, and his round got worse as a treble-bogey at the par-four 14th capped a nightmare 77.